woman wearing braces smiling

Do You Know How to Brush Your Teeth With Braces? Take Our Quiz to Find Out!

By | Orthodontics | No Comments

At Richard Chan Orthodontics, when my braces or Invisalign patients kick off treatment, I make sure to explain to them in detail how to care for their new appliances. However, with the holidays in full swing and lots of fun to be had, you could have forgotten some of the finer points on Invisalign and braces care. Well, let’s test your knowledge with a quiz that covers everything from how to brush your teeth with braces to how many hours a day you should wear your aligners. Write down your responses and check them against the answers at the end to see how well you did.

1. How many times a day should you brush your teeth with braces?

A. You don’t really need to brush your teeth with braces because the brackets protect you from plaque.

B. Brushing teeth with braces requires a little more diligence. Brush with fluoride toothpaste in the morning, after meals and snacks, and before bed?

C. There are no hard and fast rules on how to brush your teeth with braces. Usually brushing at the end of the day will suffice and get rid of any food and plaque.

2. Do you have to use a special floss for braces?

A.  You can use regular old dental floss for braces. Use a floss threader with your floss to get under your wires and in between your teeth. However, there are also specialized orthodontic flossers that can make it even easier but they’re not a requirement.

B. Trick question! You can’t floss with braces because the brackets and wires get in the way.

C. It’s important to buy a top-of-the-line water flosser when you have braces.

3. Do you have to visit your regular dentist during your orthodontic treatment?

A. Nope. Dr. Chan and the team will check for tooth decay.

B. You only have to see your general dentist if you have a really obvious cavity that needs to be filled.

C. Yes. It’s essential to see your general dentist regularly throughout your orthodontic treatment for check-ups and cleanings. It’s typically recommended that you schedule dental visits twice a year.

4. Should you wear a mouthguard when playing sports with braces?

A. No, because the metal prevents a ball or an opponent’s elbow from hitting your teeth.

B.  It depends. If your sport requires it, then you have to wear a mouthguard.

C. Yes. You should wear a mouthguard when playing a sport or doing any activity where you could sustain a blow to the mouth. This will protect your teeth and prevent your braces from being damaged.

5. Are there foods to avoid with braces?

A. Yes. You should stay away from really hard, sticky or chewy foods when you have braces, such as popcorn, nuts, caramel, whole, raw apples or carrots and pizza crust. Frequently damaging your braces by eating these foods can cause your treatment to go off track.

B. You can eat whatever you want. If you break a bracket, Dr. Chan can easily fix it anyway.

C. Yes. You should avoid gum but everything else is fair game.

6. How many hours per day should you wear your Invisalign or Invisalign Teen aligners?

A.  You just need to wear them at night when you’re sleeping.

B. Wear your aligners for about 20 to 22 hours per day and take them out to eat and brush and floss your teeth.

C. Wearing your aligners for 12 hours a day is enough to see amazing results.

7. What should you do if your teeth are feeling sensitive after you get braces on, following an adjustment or when putting in a new set of Invisalign aligners?

A. Stop wearing your aligners or ask Dr. Chan to take your braces off.

B. Deal with it because it will make you a stronger person in the end!

C. Stick with soft foods and cold drinks for a few days after first starting treatment and whenever your teeth feel sensitive. You can also try swishing with a saltwater rinse (one teaspoon of salt dissolved in a glass of warm water) or taking a non-aspirin, over-the-counter pain reliever.

8. How do you handle a broken braces bracket?

A. The wires are actually much more important than the brackets so you don’t have to do anything if a braces bracket comes loose or breaks.

B. Attempt use a piece of gum to hold it in place until your next appointment.

C. Call Richard Chan Orthodontics and let us know what’s going on so we can schedule you for a repair appointment. If the bracket has broken completely free and is in the back of your mouth, gently remove it from the wire and then cover the remaining wire in orthodontic relief wax or use sterilized nail clippers to very carefully clip the excess. If a braces brackets comes loose in the front of your mouth, dry it off with a piece of tissue or a cotton swab and then use wax to cover it so it doesn’t irritate your lips or cheeks.

9. Can you eat while you have your Invisalign aligners in your mouth?

A. No. Be sure to take your Invisalign or Invisalign Teen aligners out before you eat or drink anything besides water. It’s a good idea to brush your teeth or rinse your mouth out before putting them back in.

B. Yes. You only wear your aligners for a week or so and then you change them. That means if they get stained or warped, you can just put in new ones.

C. You only have to remove your aligners if you’re having hot foods. You can leave them in for cold treats.

10. What should you do if you get food stuck in your braces brackets?

A. Use whatever you have on hand to knock the food loose. Braces are strong so they can withstand some force.

B. Make up an excuse and then go home immediately to avoid embarrassment.

C. Brush your teeth if your toothbrush is nearby, use a proxy brush to poke the food free or gently dislodge it with a toothpick.


  1. B
  2. A
  3. C
  4. C
  5. A
  6. B
  7. C
  8. C
  9. A
  10.   C

9-10 Questions Right – Invisalign and Braces Care Expert

Congratulations! You know your stuff when it comes to caring for your appliance and your teeth. You’re going to sail through treatment and see outstanding results before you know it!

7-8 Questions Right – Teeth-Straightening Newbie

We don’t expect our patients to know everything. It seems like you have the basics down. It wouldn’t hurt to check out our page on life with braces or read through our Invisalign FAQs to make sure you have all of the information you need to keep your smile healthy throughout treatment.

6 Questions or Less RightWe’ve Got You Covered

It’s okay to feel a little lost during orthodontic treatment but it’s really important to follow our instructions to get the best results and make sure you finish treatment on time. Let’s chat at your next appointment. Let us know you have some questions and we’ll fill you in on everything you need to know.

If you ever have a question about treatment, contact us and we’ll make sure you feel confident about caring for your braces or Invisalign. If you aren’t a patient yet but you’re ready to get your dream smile, book a free consultation at Richard Chan Orthodontics in Bothell, Monroe or Mill Creek, Washington or Juneau or Sitka, Alaska!


young girl wearing braces looking up at camera

A Parents’ Guide to Early Orthodontic Treatment

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The American Association of Orthodontists recommends kids see an orthodontist for an evaluation by the age of seven. That’s because at this time, a child will have his or her first permanent molars, which establish the back bite. We can then look at the side-to-side and front-to-back tooth relationships to see how things are shaping up. While early orthodontic treatment has become more prevalent in recent years, that doesn’t mean your child will leave their first appointment in braces. In fact, at Richard Chan Orthodontics, I always treat extremely conservatively with minimal treatment on young patients. Most of the time, I can get outstanding results without two-phase orthodontic treatment. That being said, there are times when stepping in early can prevent the need for more extensive treatment or surgical correction later in life.

What is Early Orthodontic Treatment?

Early orthodontic treatment, sometimes called two-phase orthodontic treatment or interceptive orthodontic treatment, is when a child starts treatment while they still have some primary teeth and are still growing and developing. I’m a specialist in dentofacial orthopedics, so I am able to use certain orthodontic appliances during a child’s younger years to guide their facial growth and the width of their upper and lower dental arches. I can also make room for the permanent teeth to come in correctly. When interceptive orthodontic treatment is indicated, it doesn’t necessarily always mean a full set of braces for kids. Sometimes, phase 1 orthodontic treatment involves orthodontic appliances, such as a palatal expander, that is worn until we achieve the movement or growth we want. Then, the kiddo takes a break for a while until all of the permanent teeth come in before finally using braces or Invisalign Teen in phase 2 treatment when they are teenagers.

However, the good news is, with so many advances in technology and techniques, I’ve been able to achieve really amazing outcomes without resorting to interceptive orthodontic treatment. Typically, when young patients visit for their first orthodontic appointment, I assess their bite and they continue to come back to Richard Chan Orthodontics over the years so I can monitor their growth and development. These early checkups are complimentary. Eventually, when they are ready to kick off treatment, I can help you pinpoint the ideal time to start it. It also provides a great opportunity for kids to get comfortable with visits and become familiar with the office. If your little one has oral habits like thumb sucking, mouth breathing, tongue thrusting or abnormal swallowing, I can give you guidance on correcting those as well.

Signs a Child Could Benefit from Interceptive Orthodontic Treatment

Though the following issues don’t necessarily mean your child will definitely need two-phase orthodontic treatment and we may be able to address some of them without it, they are an indicator that an orthodontic evaluation is needed.

  • Early loss of primary teeth, especially if it’s due to decay or injury
  • Problems with speaking clearly, chewing or biting
  • Very crowded or misaligned teeth at the age of seven
  • Protruding front teeth
  • A significant underbite, overbite or crossbite
  • Teeth that don’t meet together at all when your child closes their mouth

The Benefits of Early Orthodontic Treatment

I always weigh the early orthodontic treatment pros and cons and if it’s clear that the pros heavily outnumber the cons, then it could be recommended. When interceptive orthodontic treatment is the best course of action, the benefits are significant. The benefits can include:

  • Making space to alleviate severe crowding
  • Directing jaw growth and creating facial symmetry
  • Reducing the risk of injury by shifting protruding teeth into their correct places
  • Making sufficient room for the permanent teeth to erupt
  • Warding off the need for extractions
  • Decreasing the duration of orthodontic treatment in the teenage years or adulthood
  • Boosting self-esteem and confidence
  • Minimizing the likelihood that surgery will be necessary down the road
  • Stopping habits like thumb sucking and tongue thrusting before they cause damage
  • Helping a child chew, bite and speak properly and, sometimes, even opening the airway
  • Giving them the gift of a beautiful smile

Looking for a children’s orthodontist in Mill Creek, Bothell or Monroe, Washington? Schedule a complimentary consultation at Richard Chan Orthodontics. My team and I take a conservative approach to early orthodontic treatment. If it is necessary, however, we will sit down with you and walk you through your child’s diagnosis. I’ll then explain the early orthodontic treatment pros and cons, present you with the best treatment options for your child’s smile and answer any and all of your questions. You’ll feel informed and educated, so you can make a confident decision about your little one’s care. Book your child’s visit today!

Temporary Anchorage Device

What is a Temporary Anchorage Device (TAD) and Why is it Used With Braces?

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Sometimes, braces alone can bring about fantastic results. In other cases, however, we need an anchorage point for a pushing and pulling force to help facilitate movements that can’t be achieved with just brackets and wires. In the past, headgear was the go-to treatment in many of these instances. As you can probably guess, not too many patients were thrilled with the prospect of having a large, bulky, highly visible appliance attached to their hardware. Thankfully, these days, there’s an alternative: a temporary anchorage device (TAD). I believe in using modern techniques that can make treatment more effective and easier for my patients at Richard Chan Orthodontics, which is why I’m trained in the use of TADs. Though TADs are an amazing tool, not a lot of patients are all that familiar with them, so I’m covering the basics. Read More


8 Things You Won’t Hear Us Say When Getting Braces On

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A decade or two ago, the braces experience was quite a bit different than it is today. The hardware was bigger, bulkier and less comfortable.  More frequent adjustments were needed due to less technologically advanced wires. A lot has changed but patients still get a little nervous about getting braces on and about treatment in general. It’s often because of hearing other people’s braces stories from a long time ago, the way they’re portrayed in pop culture or just a fear of the unknown. My team and I always chat with our Alaska, Bothell, Monroe and Mill Creek braces and Invisalign patients at their consultation and let them know exactly what to expect. This goes a long way in helping to alleviate any jitters they’re feeling. We also take a personalized, patient-centric approach, meaning our focus is on ensuring you’re comfortable, relaxed and happy. With that in mind, here are 8 things you won’t hear us say when getting braces on:
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Why You Need to Attend Our Patient Appreciation BBQ

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At Richard Chan Orthodontics, we’re lucky to have the best patients in the world! Dr. Chan and our team look forward to coming into the office every day because of the awesome kids, teens and adults we get to hang out with. Transforming a smile is a journey and over the course of treatment, we get to know our patients and their families on a personal level and form lasting bonds. What better way to say thank you for being the best than with a party? That’s exactly what we’re going to do at our 10th Annual Patient Appreciation BBQ at Blyth Park (16950 West Riverside Drive, Bothell). Mark your calendars because this year’s free event will be held on Thursday, August 16 from 11:30am to 2:30pm. It’s open to all of our Juneau and Sitka, AK and Bothell, Monroe and Mill Creek, WA orthodontic patients and their friends and families. Why should you attend? Read More


How We Make Orthodontic Treatment Affordable for Our Patients

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At Richard Chan Orthodontics, our practice is centered on the idea that everyone should have access to the best orthodontic care regardless of their financial situation. No one should have to miss out on having a healthy, confident smile because of their budget. That’s why we do everything in our power to make our Alaska, Bothell, Monroe and Mill Creek, WA orthodontic treatment affordable for our patients without compromising on results or service. From flexible financing to free consultations, here’s how we strive to ensure having straight teeth isn’t a luxury or out of reach for the families in our community.

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Dispelling All the Myths Around Dental X-Rays

Dispelling All the Myths Around Dental X-Rays

By | Orthodontics | No Comments

Even though the Earth is bathed in radiation and we’re exposed to it from so many different sources, many of them naturally occurring, the word “radiation” still sets off alarm bells in a lot of people. That’s why patients and parents often ask the Richard Chan Orthodontics team, “Are dental x-rays safe for me?” or “Are dental x-rays safe for my kids?” Rest assured, we’d never put our patients’ health at risk and dental x-rays, especially the low-dose, modern version we use, account for a miniscule fraction of the radiation that’s all around us. They’re not only safe but also an integral part of the diagnostic process, allowing us to give you the best possible care and achieve exceptional results. Unfortunately, in spite of all of the research illustrating the safety of x-rays, misinformation is floating around. To give you peace of mind, we’ll debunk the common dental x-ray myths.

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What to do in an Orthodontic Emergency at Home and While Traveling

What to do in an Orthodontic Emergency at Home and While Traveling

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When your mouth is outfitted with brackets and wires it’s totally normal to worry that something could go wrong, especially in the beginning. However, we have to say, between our offices in Washington and Alaska, we’ve seen a ton of Juneau, Sitka, Bothell, Monroe and Mill Creek braces and Invisalign patients and the overwhelming majority of them sail through treatment without any issues. Actual orthodontic emergencies are extremely rare. Usually, mishaps are minor, like a broken bracket or irritation, and they’re easily fixed. To put your mind at ease and give you the know-how to keep your treatment on track if the unexpected occurs, we’ll go over orthodontic emergency information and comfort care tips for when you’re at home or traveling.

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Braces Friendly Food in the Seattle Area

Braces-Friendly Food in the Seattle Area

By | Community, Orthodontics | No Comments

So you started your teeth-straightening journey and now you’re trying to work out the braces and food equation. A lot of our Bothell, Monroe and Mill Creek braces patients are under the assumption that they’ll have to make drastic changes to their diet. That’s not the case at all. You’ll be happy to know you can still enjoy most of your favorites. After Dr. Chan outfits you with your new hardware, he’ll go over all of the details about life with braces. In the meantime, we’ll give you a brief overview of the things you can eat as well as some of Richard Chan Orthodontics’ favorite Seattle area restaurants with braces-friendly food.

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A Guide to Getting Braces Just on Your Bottom or Top Teeth

A Guide to Getting Braces Just on Your Bottom or Top Teeth

By | Orthodontics | One Comment

Every once in a while, a patient will visit Richard Chan Orthodontics and ask about the possibility of getting braces on the top teeth only or the bottom teeth only. They usually feel their top or bottom teeth are straight enough or the bottom teeth aren’t all that visible so they consider them less of a priority. After all, fewer braces or only half of the usual number of Invisalign trays would save money, right? Whether the approach would be cost-effective or if one arch treatment is even a possibility, depends on a number of factors.

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